Vellum Venom Vignette: The McModern Countach
The Countach is back, long live the Countach! Except not literally, as the new Countach LPI 800-4 is heavily based on the Sián under it’s quasi-modernist skin. Making a Countach re-pop from scratch was never in the cards for a profit-centric corporation, not to mention making it street-legal would be close to impossible.
So this new icon, just like the rise of the minimalist-inspired, cost-engineered McMansion-turn-McModern homes are a cost-effective way to take something off the shelf and change it just enough to get clicks generated, likes bestowed, and (most importantly) checks written to Lamborghini dealerships.
The McModern home analogy may seem disingenuous, but it’s totally not: Both McModerns and the LPI 800-4 pay homage to a simpler time in design when flat planes and a stunning lack of ornamentation became all the rage for buyers. While the McModern inadvertently rides high on the post Mad Men boom for Mid-Century Modern design, perhaps the Countach never fell out of fashion: Gen-Xers (cue the trite reference to posters on a bedroom wall) never forgot, and millenials/Gen-Z are now catching Synthwave fever, as it were.
The LPI 800-4’s front end is probably the best angle, as the trapezoidal frunk was both an easy and obvious homage. The lack of pop-up headlights remains a tragedy for Synthwave-style reboots, but at least these bits are shaped in harmony with the original’s signal lights. (They also carved out the fender tops to reference the two-tier Countach lighting pods.)
The biggest indication up front that the LPI 800-4 is a modern Lambo comes from the twin body-color scoops in the lower valence. Those suckers came to life in the 2008 Reventón and their inclusion here is likely flawless, even though I’d prefer them in satin black so they wouldn’t take away from the minimalist wedge bumper—especially in the photo below.
The front bumper is probably my favorite bit of kit, the off center logo and minimalist grille graphics are a fantastic homage to the original LP 400. But there’s also a tapered nose that accentuates the wedgy demeanor of the new ‘tach. Even the windshield has that angular, hard-edge, 1970s Italian supercar look to it.
Except that is not a wedge-shaped hunk of glass. It’s not a bespoke creation for a limited-production tribute car, either. That windscreen plays supercar DLO FAIL thanks to the fenders and frunk having the correct creases, finishing the deceit off with a coat of black paint. While this makes the LPI 800-4 look like the original in pictures, it’s not gonna work as well in person.
More to the point: The windscreen, the DLO cheating, and the cab-forward A-pillar (complete with fixed quarter window) are pure modern Lamborghini. It’s appealing enough, but design purists might see it as a slap in the face to the original Bertone design. Sad, but not surprising considering any revision in this location sends the engineering team back to the drawing board to ensure aerodynamic performance, crash worthiness, etc.
Lamborghini insists the LPI 800-4 takes inspiration “from the Quattrovalvole edition” because of callbacks like the hexagonal wheel arches, NACA ducts in the doors, grilles behind the door glass, no rear spoiler, and most importantly the periscope (Periscopio) on the roof. The latter is functional, thanks to a glass panel not unlike that mohawk moonroof on the sixth-generation, A34 Nissan Maxima.
But this so ain’t no Nissan sedan.
While the rear details are somewhat fussy compared to the original LP-400, the LPI 800-4’s rear three quarter and rear end shots are a brilliant modernization of the Quattrovalvole Countach’s hastily added scoops and bizarrely arranged hood vents; instead of tacking things on, they are perfectly integrated via long, flowing lines that end naturally into the Countach’s signature rear valence/tail lamp treatment. I once noted the Quattrovalvole “is a challenging car to critique”, but that’s certainly not the case with the LPI 800-4. (If so inclined, read the QV’s Vellum Venom here.)
While the cowl/A-pillar/front quarter window are far too modern, while the wheels need more 1980’s gold and less charcoal, while the NACA duct is an oppressively dominant force along the body, Lamborghini absolutely nailed the essence of the original 1970’s Bertone design with the LPI 800-4.
Let’s give credit to everyone at Lamborghini who, over the years, ensured modern Lambos looked like direct descendants of the original Countach. And like a McModern mansion, this baby is brand spankin’ new with none of the issues inherent to purchasing a properly vintage piece of automotive art and engineering. Too bad the limited-production Countach will only number 112 examples, because this beauty could tempt as many wealthy types as have, say, McModern homes?
Like the aforementioned Reventón was, this could be an inflection point for hypercar design. The LPI 800-4 (and the Tesla Cybertruck, to be honest) could take us back to an era where minimalism reigned and a new definition of retrofuturism now hinges on the best and brightest ideas from the 1970s and 1980s. Oh, wouldn’t it be lovely!